The pop-up phenomenon has grown way bigger than the occasional dinner counter at your neighborhood bar. We’re now seeing pop-ups that resemble Russian nesting dolls, with emerging chefs experimenting inside other brick-and-mortar restaurants. Take Butters, for example, a new patio pop-up that’s attracting brunch-goers to espresso joint Spruce Cafe in South San Francisco. And then there’s Andina, a Venezuelan pop-up serving arepas and pasteles at Mission District cocktail bars.
Along with these new pop-ups, Bernal Heights gem United Dumplings docks in the Marina with a second outpost for Northern Chinese comfort food, and Chefs Tee Atthapon Inkhong and Navin Tintuksiri team up to bring Thai brunch to Daly City. The weekend needs another morning…
Happy Hour at Bar Jesse
Hilda and Jesse
701 Union St.
Hilda and Jesse, the fictional stand-ins for co-owners Kirstina Compton and Rachel Sillcocks, have made a name for themselves and their North Beach brunchery by taking chances and choosing sides. When the first restaurant opened in late 2021, the pair grabbed attention for serving food on Mondays, typically a very slow day in the industry, and giving a 10% discount to restaurant workers. They inspired even splashier headlines when they refused to serve armed police officers.
Though offering discounts on drinks and food isn’t exactly a risky business decision, it is sure to garner support from those who—well—enjoy cheaper drinks and food. Hilda and Jesse will inaugurate their happy hour with a special menu that packages some of their hits in the late afternoon and early evening on the final day of the work week.
The “Bar Jesse” menu pairs inventive dishes like tempura cauliflower with Shimaoka Shuzo sake and Latvian Trout Roe with Prosecco. Compton and Sillcocks envision Bar Jesse as a chance to hang with their regulars, so happy hour is luxuriously long, lasting from 3-7 p.m. every Friday beginning this weekend.
Northern Chinese Comfort Food
2015 Chestnut St.
Two years ago, this Bernal Heights favorite shook up the dumpling game by filling theirs with unexpected ingredients like mac ‘n’ cheese and truffle oil. Earlier this month, United Dumplings docked in the Marina, opening a second spot for dim sum staples and surprises. Owners Julia Zhu and Sandy Zheng combine familiar flavors from their childhoods in Northern China with international influences from their time in San Francisco—the beef bulgogi dumpling is a prime example. Expect the usual suspects from the Bernal location with more eclectic fillings still to come.
Kan Kiin Brunch & Thai Eatery
201 Southgate Ave., Daly City
Chef Tee Atthapon Inkhong of Oakland fusion noodlery Roji Ramen joins up with San Francisco restaurateur Navin Tintuksiri to bring Thai brunch and dinner to the Westlake neighborhood of Daly City. Kan Kiin reinterprets the heartier side of the traditional breakfast menu. The fried chicken and waffles are served in the Hat Yai style—crunchy and caramelized in oil. The dinner menu skews more toward conventional Thai fare, capitalizing on our local seafood bounty with the Dungeness crab fried rice.
Venezuelan Bar Bites Pop-Up
With her culinary project Andina, Victoria Lozano serves crispy arepas and other Venuzuelan comfort food from her native Andean region. Now she’s landed a solid pop-up rotation at Mission District watering holes Junior and El Rio. This weekend and next, the up and coming La Cocina entrepreneur will supply bar hoppers with arepas filled with carne mechada, or shredded beef, gouda and fontina, that are slow-cooked in sofrito. Also catch Lozano later in the month when she debuts as a food vendor at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. (Andina comes to Junior on Sept. 15 and Sept. 22 from 6-9 p.m.; and lands at El Rio on Sept. 16 and Sept. 23 from 6-9 p.m.)
…And Even More Brunch
Butters Brunch at Spruce Cafe
230 S Spruce Ave., South San Francisco
A few blocks off El Camino Real in South San Francisco, Butters Brunch makes the most of the large outdoor patio at Spruce Cafe, a specialty espresso bar. At the end of August, the pop-up launched a menu of organic, scratch-made breakfast. The Belgian waffle with seasonal peaches is a fast favorite. Other dishes, like the bistro salad with frisée and cured bacon, topped with a poached egg, lean into the lunch side of brunch. Butters Brunch will be guest starring at Spruce every weekend for the foreseeable future.
Sarah Holtz can be reached at [email protected]